Why paper address books still exist

There’s been lots of research on whether computers actually decrease productivity/efficiency but I figure a little more anecdotal evidence never hurts. After struggling to get Ilyse’s new Treo to sync with her Mac Address Book, discovering that it required another $40 piece of third-party software, buying that and still not geting it to work correctly without dedicating a couple hours that I haven’t had time for, Ilyse and I had a conversation about whether her new smart phone was a smart purchase. She had been carrying around a Handspring and a phone for a while but when we upgraded the Mac OS it was no longer possible to sync the Handspring with her computer. So it seemed to make sense to get one device to replace two. In hindsight it probably would have made more sense for her to return to using a paper Filofax. The time spent moving data off the Handspring onto the computer and then from the computer to the Treo, parsing it for duplicates, was bad enough. On top of that add the time to make email work on the phone, to set it up to sync with the mail server and with mail on the Mac. Then there’s the time spent trying to figure out how to sync address books and calendars between Ilyse’s Mac and mine – another task that requires research into third party software and much trial and error. That’s a lot of time that could have been much better spent reading a book or watching a movie or playing a game.

At the same time Ilyse started using a Treo I started using a BlackBerry and also had trouble syncing it with my Mac’s address book and calendar. The first time I tried I wound up with a ton of duplicate entries in my calendar that took lots of time to delete.

I justify this time investment by the fact that I can instantly find any contact in my address book. Search is the critical time saver that makes it all worthwhile. But recently I’ve started encountering a problem in which search  doesn’t find things that I know are there. Thus began another investment of time researching whether others are encountering the same problem (they are, as reported  here and here and here) and whether there’s a solution. The suggested fix for this particular problem is to edit the entries that aren’t being found. But since I rely on search to tell me whether the entry is in my address book, that requires me to browse manually – just like I would do with a paper address book – whenever I search for something I think is there but search doesn’t find, then edit it (that is, pretend to make a change to it) so that it gets found next time.

It’s the attention these things require more than the absolute time they take that is of issue. If I have a paper address book and I search for an entry, it’s either there where it’s supposed to be or it’s not. I never have to wonder whether it’s there but I just can’t find it. I never have to think about whether it’s broken and I how I should fix it or what I should replace it with. And I certainly wouldn’t spend any time blogging about the problem. That’s time that could be better spent.

I was searching for global career advice and found bacon salt

Tonight I was doing some research for a multinational client that needs to provide its young employees with advice and strategies for managing a global corporation. My searching led me to My Global Career, which provides timely info and a comprehensive set of resources and is written by Rusty Weston who blogs on Fast Company. Perusing the career resources I linked to Dave Lefkow’s blog on recruiting. And there I discovered…Bacon Salt!

Now I haven’t tasted this stuff yet but I may head over to Jake’s Dixie Roadhouse in Waltham to buy a bottle. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 18 years and the flavor I still miss is bacon. None of the vegetarian imitations I’ve tried does the job. Most of the time I substitute arugula, which was really good on a yukon gold pizza at Stone Hearth the other day.  I’m considering myself warned by this review though.

Better than the seasoning was the story itself. I’m wishing the Bacon Salt entrepreneurs the best of luck and thanks for the reminder that good ideas can come from anywhere. My seven-year-old is full of them and I’m listening more intently than ever.

Phil Patrone

A little more than ten years ago I saw David Mamet’s Speed the Plow at the Lyric Stage and it remains one of the finest productions I have seen of any play anywhere. Phil Patrone was stunning and I became a fan – trying to see any production he was in. I later met him socially through my wife and he was one of the nicest people you could know.

Phil passed away this weekend at a very young age leaving his wife Betsy and 6-year-old daughter Grace. He will be terribly missed by colleagues and fans.

I'll choose customer service over security any day

My local bank has implemented a new security feature that is making it impossible for me to keep my account there. If I forget to log out of my account their system doesn't just log me out, it locks me out. If I leave my machine idle for too long or if my computer goes to sleep
because I got a phone call while I was checking my balance, or if I simply close the browser window instead of logging out first, I am locked out. I have accounts with Vanguard, Smith Barney, Ameritrade, ING, AG
Edwards, not to mention all the credit card sites. Not one of them has
ever locked me out of my account because I didn't log out properly. But wait, it gets worse.

The only way I can regain online access is to call their help desk. The help desk doesn't know the business online banking system so they have to refer my call to one of only two people in the bank who do. One of those people is the primary business banking account manager who is usually out visiting a customer or otherwise engaged. So usually there's one person in the whole bank who can unlock my account. If she's having lunch or on the phone I am out of luck. And if it's after business hours, when I am most likely to be using my online access, I am, again, out of luck.

It was bad enough their system doesn't let me use my Mac (it requires Internet Explorer) but I happened to have a PC on my desk that I could use.

So why don't I just switch to another bank? Because this is my local bank that contributes generously to my community. I have my mortgage and all my personal accounts with them and I love knowing that my money is going to such things as the new arts center and dozens of other organizations and events they support. And I love being able to walk down the street to the local branch.

But sometimes I don't have time to take that walk or it's after banking hours. And that's when I need online access. Security that prevents you from conducting business isn't security, it's bad business.